Have you ever considered the Knowledge you receive? What are its origin, destination and purpose? The previously stated claim illustrates, that if you want to know the real picture of the situation, you have to consider the filters, through which passes the Knowledge you receive. It means that deep understanding of the situation, drawing an appropriate conclusion and adhering your own opinion is closely tied to thorough analysis of origin, destination and purpose of the Knowledge you receive. However, this statement does not approach in particular cases.
There are two types of Knowledge – first type would be natural sciences and mathematics, and the second type – all the other (for example, history, human sciences, ethics). Natural sciences and mathematics are to be called objective Knowledge, because all the information they provide is derived with the help of measuring equipment or sequence of necessary experiments. For example, measuring equipment cannot detect extraordinary abilities of a person, but it can detect the magnetic field between his palms (it even can be measured).
Thus the presence of magnetic field radiated by palms at the moment of treating the patient is an objective assertion (it has determinate material evidence), and the presence of extraordinary abilities is subjective assertion (it has no material evidence and is based only on people’s beliefs). And the second type of Knowledge is to be called subjective, because you can never derive something with the help of measuring equipment, for example, in ethics or history. These (and all the other ones from this group) deal with people – and the provided information is passed along from person to person.
For instance, in USSR’s economic account it has been written that somewhat 75 million tons of grain was grown in 1935. But recent information illustrates the inability of contemporary USSR to grow such huge amounts of grain due to insufferable state of agriculture. These numbers were changed in order to create propaganda. This information is subjective, because it has no material evidence. As the natural sciences and mathematics are objective Knowledge – the information they provide does not depend on the filters it goes through.
What actually does depend on the filters is subjective Knowledge – because to some extent it is loose and is easily modified by the filter it goes through. Filters are considered to be of two types – external and internal filters. External filter is such kind of filter that is surrounding the individual. One of them would be propaganda. Propaganda is a deliberately manipulated testimony that is systematically contrived to distort the picture of the world we receive in the interests of some organization or community.
The aim of the propagandist is to govern or control our beliefs and desires, and hence to control our actions. For example, if a politician organizes an election campaign, he cherishes hopes for being eventually elected. So it often happens that his campaign would be mainly based on propaganda. He would intend saying almost everything the majority of country population wants to hear in order to encourage people to vote only for him. And most of us do believe this propaganda, because of not even trying to analyze the situation. Apart from propaganda, there is another external filter – gossip.
It is stories about other people’s private lives, their behaviour, their financial position or other aspects, often unkind and not true, widespread all over our society. A person, who is a gossip, is definitely not attempting to deceive or mislead somebody. For instance, if your neighbour told you about the new affair of Nicole Kidman, it would be treated as a gossip, because there is no material evidence of it. Gossip, often unconsciously, creates the negative image of the “object of gossip” – this is what you ought to be aware of.
This kind of getting Knowledge is maybe one of the worst – because the information you receive is totally unreliable and mostly erroneous. And the last quite essential aspect in terms of external filters is other people’s opinion. In other words, it is other people’s internal filters. When the people who are surrounding you receive information, they modify it according to their internal filters and only then pass it to you. In particular, when a historian writes a book, he involves lots of emotions and personal opinion, personal points of view – the book never consists only of pure facts, because they by themselves tell nothing.
Consequently, it depends on the internal filters of that historian what kind of information we are eventually going to receive. This means that, when reading such book, you have to analyze carefully many aspects on which does the emotional content of that book depend. Furthermore, there are some internal filters. Internal filter is a filter that is inside a person, such as personal persuasion, beliefs and prejudices. When a person receives information he passes it through his internal filters and only then evaluates and perceives it. The received information is modified according to his internal filters, particularly, prejudices.
How does this happen? People mostly consider the evidence selectively, avoiding what does not fit with in their prejudices and seeking out what fortifies them. We notice evidence and arguments which support our own viewpoint and fail to notice those which count against it. Our memories are very selective. Aware of this, Ch. Darwin used to keep a notebook in which he recorded everything which counted against his conclusions so he would not simply forget it. One of the consequences of not being aware of our own prejudices is the “warning” of 4th century North African bishop St.
Augustine addressed to Christians against mathematics: “The good Christian should beware of mathematicians… The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a contract with a devil to darken the spirit and to imprison man in the bonds of hell”. Another internal filter is personal persuasion. Personal persuasion seems to resemble prejudices. To some extent it is true. The difference between persuasions and prejudices is that persuasions are based on some arguments and prejudices have no basis (prejudices often depend on stereotypes or on how tolerant is a person).
In terms of personal persuasions there are many examples of filtering received information. For instance, French were unsatisfied with the Treaty of Versailles, as they considered the conditions of Treaty to be too lenient for Germany, although English and Americans clamed this Treaty to be quite severe, because of loss of territories and impossible to cope with reparations. French had their own personal persuasions for that Treaty and nothing could make them believe that it is really enough for Germany. How to evaluate information having in mind these filters?
What concerns external filters, you have to analyze the purpose of information you are provided and gather this information from different sources (when a person does not have an opportunity to choose the source of information or the aspect from which the information is provided this, virtually, is propaganda). Only this way, considering and comparing the information from different sources you are able to draw a nearly objective conclusion. Speaking about internal filters, you have to compare the information you are provided with the conclusion you have drawn.
If the information provided and conclusion drawn are consequent, then your internal filters did not modify provided information radically, and actually this is the right case. Otherwise, your internal filters’ effect on your decision and conclusion was huge and they are no more objective. As can be seen filters are of two kinds and they are really important to consider if you want your conclusion to be objective. Filters cannot be avoided – every of us does live in society, which has external filters and eventually every of us does have his own internal filters and no one can escape having them.
From my point of view, very few of us analyze the information like it ought to be done, consequently we get erroneous impression, draw inappropriate conclusion or make an incorrect decision. It leads to various misunderstandings. So, as it was said earlier, deep understanding of the situation, drawing an appropriate conclusion and adhering your own opinion is closely tied to thorough analysis of origin, destination and purpose of the Knowledge you receive, having in mind all the filters, according to which the Knowledge is modified.